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April 3rd 2014 - Posted at 5:00 PM Eastern Time

There are only two NBA games scheduled tonight and therefore not as much betting value as there is on most nights.

Our lone pick is on the NIT Championship game.

Take SMU at -3 spread against Minnesota U risking 2%

Southern Methodist was arguably the biggest snub of Selection Sunday when denied admission to the NCAA Tournament this season! They beat Final Four participant UConn twice and also held wins over Memphis and Cincinnati, two other teams that made the selection from the AAC conference. Often times there are cases that can be made as to why teams didn't ultimately get selected for the Big Dance, but we, along with others thought this SMU team deserved their chance on the big stage. Since then, they've played with a chip on their shoulders and are making up for that by being potential NIT champions!

Sometimes teams who don't make the Big Dance fall flat in the NIT and look at this tournament as fairly meaningless but that isn't a true for a success-starved program like SMU. The Mustangs been charging through this tournament with great motivation. Baylor and Iowa played in the NIT championship last season and while Iowa somewhat fizzled out down the stretch, Baylor went on to have a good NCAA Tournament which shows that the NIT tournament is a potential catapult for those who choose to look at it like that and SMU definitely does. 

SMU plays great fundamental basketball and has regularly held teams to under 40% shooting from the field! They have a Hall of Fame head coach in Larry Brown who has completely turned this program around in less than a year! He has a wealth of experience and it is easy to see why the players buy into his philosophy. 
Larry Brown can make history as the only man to have won an NBA title, an NCAA title and now an NIT championship tonight!
He is a true leader on the sidelines and you can expect his players would like nothing more than to win this game for their legendary coach and Brown will no doubt have an experience edge over the much younger Richard Pitino.

Looking at these two teams, SMU has the advantage in nearly every area. They shoot better, they defend better and often rebound better as well! The only edge that Minnesota could have might be from the foul line. If the Mustangs can avoid sending the Gophers to the charity stripe, they have a great chance to win and cover this number. Minnesota is also a team that lacks depth. They are not incredibly deep and rely on 3 players to produce the vast majority of their scoring. The two Hollins and Mathieu are the primary shooters on this team. If SMU can figure out how to slow down even one of them, Minnesota will have a hard time putting points on the board. On Tuesday, Minnesota came out of the gate hard and fast grabbing a big lead over the Florida State Seminoles. Minnesota ultimately couldn't keep their foot on the gas however and let FSU back into the contest who took the game to overtime. The Gophers ultimately picked up a close win despite not making a shot from the field in the extra period! They were let off the hook but spent a lot of energy fighting off the surging Seminoles and found that extremely stressful. That had to be a very emotionally and physically taxing game and fatigue may well come into play for the Gophers tonight. 

SMU on the other hand was a team that was nearly out of it in the first half before mounting an impressive double digit comeback! That is what great teams do. They don't sit on leads and don't give up when the going gets tough. We have seen multiple times that Minnesota is a team that crumbles when pressure mounts. They fall apart when things don't go their way. SMU on the other hand is a team that is built on determination and their last game once again proved that! They showed their ability to stick with the gameplan and never give up and that's what it takes to win championships.

The Mustangs are a very good defensive team and haven't allowed more than 68 points in six straight games! The Gophers offense is inconsistent and had it not been for their early outburst, they probably would have been held to 60 points in their last game! We feel that SMU is simply the better overall team and is hungry for a trophy! The Mustangs had only 2 players play more than 24 minutes on Tuesday night while the 3 main scorers for Minnesota each played 39+ minutes! SMU will be the fresher team tonight and that should show itself in the second half if not in the first. Lay the 3 points.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • SMU is 5-1 ATS in their last six non-conference games. 
  • Minnesota was just 6-10 on the road this season and far less effiecient offensively and defensively away from home.
  • SMU is 21-3 as a favorite this season!
  • Golden Gophers are 2-5 ATS in their last seven neutral site games.

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